By Suzanne Pender
THE new Dutch ambassador to Ireland was left in no doubt about the success of local businesses following her recent visit to the county.
Maaike van Koldam, ambassador to Ireland from the Netherlands, took part in Celebrating Excellence, an event organised by the County Carlow Chamber of Commerce to highlight, promote and investigate the secrets behind some of Carlow’s amazing businesses.
The event, which includes a live radio broadcast, live stream and live audience, focused on hearing the stories and secrets behind many of Carlow’s finest businesses.
During the three-hour event, host Brian Redmond of KCLR interviewed the winners from the recent Carlow Business Awards, including Seamus Byrne, Maurice Kelly, Paddy Carroll, Padraic George and many more at Thyme Café in the Delta Sensory Gardens.
Ambassador van Koldam has only recently taken up her post in Ireland, having presented her credentials to President Higgins at the end of October.
She has previously held positions in Georgia, Kyiv, Moscow and Santiago de Chile to mention but a few places. Joining the ambassador for the visit was Wemmechien Hofman, senior trade officer at the Netherlands embassy in Ireland.
On arrival, ambassador van Koldam was met by Rowena Dooley, president of County Carlow Chamber, Coilín O’Reilly, chief executive of Carlow County Council, cllr Andrea Dalton, cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council, and Joe Meaney, CEO of Delta Centre.
During the morning, the ambassador held meetings with County Carlow Chamber and Carlow County Council over a wide range of topics, including trade, sustainability, transportation and community, to mention but a few areas.
In addition, she joined a panel as part of Celebrating Excellence to discuss international Carlow and trade with Brian O’Farrell, CEO of County Carlow Chamber and Jason Popplewell, group commercial director at Stryve, winners of the International Business gong at the Carlow Business Awards 2023.
The ambassador is very interested in further developing the Dutch/Irish relationship throughout her tenure and to look at further opportunities in trade, culture and community. The visit concluded with a tour of Delta’s Sensory Gardens.
“We were delighted to welcome the new ambassador to Carlow for one of her first engagements,” said Mr O’Farrell.
“County Carlow Chamber is proud to have a strong relationship with the team in the Netherlands embassy going back many years and something has been key in developing further trade connections in the Netherlands, including through a successful trade mission which travelled there in 2019, in association with Calow Local Enterprise Office.
“Over the coming months, we look forward to getting to know the ambassador better and exploring further opportunities for trade and collaboration,” said Mr O’Farrell.